What Are Jewish Beliefs?
Judaism is one of the most important religions in world history. Why? Christianity, the world’s largest religion, sprung directly out of Judaism. That means that you can credit Christianity’s 2 billion members to the existence of Judaism. In fact, Christianity and Judaism are so closely related it would be impossible to think of them distinctly.
Unlike Christianity and Islam, Judaism does not really have an offiicial set of doctrines or political associations. In fact, all that is required for a person to be considered “Jewish” is their ethnicity. Because being Jewish means being a religion as well as an ethnic group, the lines between religion and race get blurred. These days, a person can be called Jewish whether or not they adhere to the strict system of Jewish beliefs about God or not. Many Jewish families maintain only the simplest basic beliefs about God and carry out a few simple rituals. Many Jews don’t believe in God at all.
The most important thing in Judaism is action — good deeds and not personal beliefs are far more important to Jews than to Christians or Muslims.
Jewish Sacred Texts
The Torah and the Talmud are the two main texts for Jews. These books (one of which makes up most of the Christian old testament) tell many stories and facts about God, humanity, even the meaning of all life — and even though Judaism today is more a set of ethnic identifiers and systems of ritual than it is about spiritualism, throughout history Jewish scholars have had a big impact on our understanding of spiritual principles.
Religious Jews recognize a large number of holy days and feast days as well as periods of fasting and praying. From Rosh Hashanah (like a Jewish new year but sprinkled with repentance) to Yom Kippur (“Day of Atonement”) it is very important for religious Jews to observe certain holidays and traditions throughout the year.
Judaism and the Messiah
Unlike Christians, whose Messiah appeared in the person of Jesus of Nazareth two thousand years ago, the Jews are still waiting for the appearance of the Messiah who will set in motion the Messianic Days, a time of peace and prosperity for all nations.
Some Jews have branched out to recognize Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah — they refer to themselves as “Messianic Jews” and are generally looked down on by the rest of the Jewish community.
Judaism is as varied as the millions of people who celebrate it. From orthodox Jews who adhere strictly to codes set down in the Torah to new-wave Jews participating in mystical rituals and prayers taken from the Jewish text knwon as the Kabbalah , the beliefs of Jews are just as varied as that of any other large religious system.
This post is part of a series of articles about Religious Beliefs. The other posts in this series are:
- Where Are Buddhism Beliefs?
- What Are Hinduism Beliefs?
- What Are Catholic Beliefs?
- What Are Christian Beliefs?